When did ‘best before’ dates begin?

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

An idea past its sell-by date

Waitrose has announced the removal of ‘best before’ dates from many food products.

– The idea of printing dates began with Marks & Spencer in the 1950s, but only for use in the stockroom. They first appeared in the company’s shops in 1970 and were named ‘sell-by’ dates from 1973, launched with an advertising campaign saying: ‘The sell-by date means that St Michael foods are fresh.’ There was also a TV advert which featured Twiggy.

– The concept was quickly adopted by other supermarkets after evidence that shoppers liked the reassurance of a date. It was expanded in the 1980s, with ‘best before’ dates and ‘use-by’ dates, the first being advisory and the second indicating a genuine risk of food poisoning. The idea has now gone full circle: last month M&S, too, said it was dropping sell-by dates on many fruits and vegetables to cut waste – replacing them with stockroom codes.

Watching the footy

It is asserted that England’s Euros victory by the women’s football team could lead to a lasting increase in the numbers of people watching the women’s game. How do spectator numbers compare for the most-watched men’s and women’s teams? Average attendance for home matches in 2021/22:


Manchester United 72,992

Arsenal 59,776

West Ham 57,915

Spurs 56,523

Liverpool 53,027

Manchester City 52,739


Manchester United 3,567

Chelsea 3,187

Arsenal 2,554

Manchester City 1,988

Leicester 1,915

Brighton and Hove Albion 1,765

Breaking out

How many people escape from prison?

– There were 12 escapes, in the year to March, up from five the previous year.

– There were 95 absconds from open jails, a 6 per cent decrease.

– There were 529 ‘temporary release failures’, including 57 cases where the prisoner failed to return at all, and 11 where the prisoner was still at large after 30 days.

– However, there was a fall in the number of people caught with banned items:

Drugs – 13%

Mobile phones – 9%

Alcohol – 2%

Sim cards – 11%

Source: Ministry of Justice

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